Hints and Tips for Starting a Business in Dubai

Hints and Tips for Starting a Business in Dubai

From its humble beginnings as a small desert city, over the past several decades Dubai has grown into a massive business hub and is, at this point, the most expensive city in the Middle East. The proximity to headquarters of so many major corporations and access to numerous fundraising options make Dubai an ideal place for your next corporate headquarters. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get this done with the greatest efficiency.

1.      Handle the basics

Never lose from sight that you’re still launching your dream business, which means that you need to worry about the fundraising, the business plan, the infrastructure and the personnel. In other words, you need to worry about the things that aren’t affected by the location of the business, regardless if it’s Dubai, London or New York. This is why you need to learn how to handle the fundamentals of business long before you start picking the location.

2.      Do your research

While doing business in the UAE has some benefits, like high security of investing, great infrastructure and growth of national economy, there are some activities that are prohibited by law. These activities can be divided into several categories. For instance, alcoholic products or semi-finished products made of pork are a definite no-no. Gambling (in various forms) are also prohibited and so is anything of dubious moral content. Prostitution and narcotics are also strongly prohibited, nonetheless, this is the case in a lot of countries and regions, which is why it shouldn’t come as too great of a culture shock. Either way, start by checking if your business is allowed in Dubai, in the first place.

Hints and Tips for Starting a Business in Dubai

3.      Three jurisdictions

The city itself may not seem that large. However, international business setup greatly depends on where the jurisdiction for your business falls under. There are three major zones, the Mainland, Free zone and Offshore. This will affect some of the most important factors like the company’s ownership status and tax that it falls under. The free zone is ideal for those starting without a local partner, yet, rental prices here tend to be substantially higher than regular rental prices in the city, for this very reason.

4.      Find reliable local partners

Previously, we’ve discussed several factors that are specific to Dubai. Now, we’re not suggesting that it’s impossible for you to handle all of this on your own but it’s much easier to find reliable local partners that can help you with the logistics of the setting up a business in Dubai. In this way, you can get someone skilled at corporate structuring, navigating visa and government approvals via their government liaisons, as well as management consulting. Needless to say, the services of such an agency can even be used for mergers and acquisitions. Other than this, you also need the assistance of skilled local lawyers and it would be wise to consult them at every step.

5.      Understand cultural borders

Finally, Dubai may be a modern city, an international city and, by some standards, even the city of the future. However, what you need to understand is the fact that it’s probably a different culture from what you’ve gotten used to and, as such, it might take some time until you’re fully accustomed to it. Therefore, it might be worth your while to do some light reading on the topic of business etiquette in the UAE.

Hints and Tips for Starting a Business in Dubai


As always, starting a business starts with the research of the local market, local customs and local laws. Then, you proceed to develop your own business plans and see where they fit in the bigger picture. On top of this, if you manage to find reliable local partners, you’re destined for success.

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